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Abbas Fears Hamas Coup d'Etat in Judea and Samaria

PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas says Hamas is planning to take over Fatah-controlled Judea and Samaria. Hamas denies.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 10/29/2007, 8:37 AM

Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas says that rival Hamas terrorists are planning to overthrow his government in Ramallah and take over Fatah-controlled Judea and Samaria.

Abbas made the statements Sunday night in an interview with the Jerusalem Post and accused "international parties [of] supporting Hamas in its effort."  Abbas aides said the PA Chairman was referring to Iran, Syria and Qatar.

"We have information that Hamas is planning to copy the (June 2007) Gaza coup in the West Bank," Abbas said, adding that he believes the plan will fail. He stated his willingness to resume negotiations with Hamas when the terror faction relaxes its chokehold in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied the charges, accusing Abbas of covering up "crimes" carried out by his "militias" against Hamas supporters in Judea and Samaria. Barhoum also claimed Hamas was "forced to take security measures in the Gaza Strip to stop Abbas's forces from carrying out the Zionist-American plot to overthrow the democratically-elected [Hamas] government."

The PA Chairman also charged Hamas and Israel with holding separate talks, and said Hamas leaders must publicly admit their involvement with Israel. The Olmert administration previously has stated it is against any contact by Hamas with Jerusalem or with the PA.

Hamas won control over the PA government in a landslide victory at the polls in January 2006, and Hamas Chairman Ismail Haniyeh became PA Prime Minister.  Abbas remained as PA Chairman. Fierce clashes between the two factions followed the elections and repeated attempts by local and international figures to resolve the differences between the two – including a Saudi-sponsored summit that led to a brief unity government – ultimately failed.

Many donor nations to the PA withdrew their support when Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization in the United States and other Western nations, was voted in.

After Hamas took over Gaza and expelled Abbas's forces in June, 2007, Abbas retaliated by dissolving the unity government and installing an emergency government in Judea and Samaria. Abbas won back financial and political bounty from Western nations by declaring that he would keep his distance from Hamas.

Recently there have been whispers that Fatah is negotiating secretly with Hamas to repair its relationship, an allegation denied in a lukewarm statement by Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman, who admitted several Arab and Islamic countries were mediating between the two factions.